3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2013
Last year Game fans received two different projects from the West Coast emcee; his California Republic mixtape and his fifth studio album, Jesus Piece. While that may seem like a dream come true to most people, I found myself disappointed with both efforts. His mixtape didn't grab me at all, and Jesus Piece sounded rushed and unfocused. Since then Game's been pretty quiet, only dropping a handful of videos from both projects. However, last month he released his latest mixtape OKE, and I was pleasantly surprised with the end result.
For one, Game actually sounds hungry again. He may not be The Documentay-hungry, but he definitely sounds more focused this time around. Whether it's him discussing the harsh reality of Compton streets on track two, "Life Is But A Dream" or his mother's visit to the hospital on track six, "Love on Fire," there is a certain passion that was undeniably absent from his last few projects. In fact, "Love on Fire" is easily the most powerful song we've heard from Game since 2011's "The Kill." He paints an extremely vivid picture that gives me chills every time I listen to it.
In addition, his name-dropping seems to be tamer in comparison to some of his more recent material. However, as a result, his subject matter can become a little generic at times--there is a lot of talk about cars and women--but it doesn't wind up being a huge issue. Also, Game doesn't hesitate to get personal on here; discussing his divorce, his children, and his mother. The name-dropping is still part of his repertoire, of course, but it's not a big point of emphasis on this project. I will say, though, that the 50 Cent diss on track 14, "Swerve"--which sounds like a R.E.D. Album leftover--was a little unnecessary, especially since he was trying to reconcile with him recently.
Unfortunately, OKE is far from perfect. If I had to break it down, my biggest issue would be the mixtape's production. With production from Pops, Cool & Dre, League of Starz, and Amadeus, among others, OKE's production is extremely inconsistent. The first half of the mixtape is very raw, dark, and grounded. However, once you reach track nine things start spiraling out of control. The tone switches suddenly to a more ratchet-driven sound, and it doesn't complement anything we've heard up to this point. What's worse is that this sound isn't a one time thing. It's heard on-and-off for the remainder of the project, and it makes the final half a jumbled mess.
Finally, as one would expect, Game wasn't afraid of getting an abundance of features on here. What was surprising to me, though, was that he was actually tame in this department as well. Most of the guests on OKE are there more for hook support, and if the mixtape were missing the ratchet songs there would only be a handful of guest emcees. Some of the vocalists include Elijah Blake, Sam Hook, Chris Brown, and Chantel. In addition, you also get guest verses from ScHoolboy Q, Lil Wayne, Problem, Nipsey Hussle, and Stat Quo, among others. While the lineup definitely could have been better, we've been put through worse on previous mixtapes.
Standout Songs: "Life Is But A Dream (Feat. Elijah Blake)," "Love On Fire (Feat. Chantel)" & "Compton (Feat. Stat Quo)"
Overall Score: 7/10 - OKE shows that Game's flame is still burning strong. However, while it was nice to hear him spitting some raw bars again, the mixtape still suffers from a severe lack of focus. Game shines brightest when he's rapping over the smooth production found on the first half of OKE, but the dramatic shift in the project's tone also results in a shift in his lyrical consistency. With that said, though, there's still enough strong material on here to justify giving it a listen.